Twelfth Night, Holt

What could be more seasonal than a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on the night itself?

What could be more seasonal than a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on the night itself?

The Open Stage Company's run of shows at Gresham's School Auden Theatre marks the end of the festive season.

A Christmas tree is appropriate enough centre stage for John Harrison's sensitive production of this classic comedy.

The Edwardian setting not only gave the play a fresh slant but also allowed opportunities for colourful period costume.

This is a play of wonderful characters and the Open Stage Company looked at them all afresh: there was nothing stale or over familiar about their characterisation. The sharpness of character was enhanced by some of the clearest and best spoken Shakespearean language I have heard on a Norfolk stage.

Malvolio (Alastair Boag) moved from servility to overweening pride. Finally, red-eyed and humiliated, he regained his dignity as he rejected the whole lot of his tormentors. It is a wonderful performance.

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Viola (Naomi Cooke) was powerfully direct and clear; Olivia (Lisa Harrison) was every inch the Countess, moving from disdain to helpless infatuation. The comic pairing of Sir Toby Belch (David Harding) and Sir Andrew, played as an elderly Norfolk gentleman by Peter Thrower, worked well. They were abetted by a deliciously pert Maria (Diana Waller).

Richard Chamberlain was an effectively self-indulgent Orsino. It was hard to see the place of the court jester in this Edwardian society but Alex Bartram as Feste certainly made the most of her songs.

John Harrison directed the production with style, bringing out the sadness and frustration as well as the fun of the play. Overall it is a pure delight, not to be missed.

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